The Enid News and Eagle is a newspaper that you might not be subscribed to unless you happen to live in Garfield County, Oklahoma and are one of the less than 50,000 residents. In terms of political alignment we’re talking about one of the more conservative areas of one of the most conservative states in the country. That’s why it was rather unusual for their editorial board to endorse Hillary Clinton in the election this fall. It was a decision which would come back to haunt them and the blowback from that call hasn’t ended yet. (Daily Caller)
A small town newspaper in Enid, Oklahoma formally endorsed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race, a decision from which the newspaper still hasn’t recovered, according to The New York Times Tuesday.
The Enid News and Eagle endorsed Clinton in October, asserting that Trump didn’t represent the values of the news organization. The Enid News and Eagle endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio during the primary process, but opted to support the Democrat during the general election.
“For our newspaper — a historically conservative voice in a conservative, Republican region of arguably the reddest state in the union — endorsing a Democrat for president is truly an exception,” the editorial staff wrote in October. “But this is not a routine campaign. In fact, Nov. 8 will see the most crucial presidential election race in contemporary American history.”
After the News and Eagle backed Clinton more than 150 customers cancelled their subscriptions. That may not sound like much, but when you’re operating in a market of that size it actually works out to nearly two percent of their customers. Even more alarming was the loss of nearly a dozen advertisers, including their single largest account. Despite the election being over and the “healing” supposedly underway, neither the subscribers nor the advertisers are coming back yet and the paper is in trouble.
Despite what you’ll hear from cable news talking heads, this isn’t a case of the First Amendment being in peril. Nobody is suppressing the paper’s right to exist or report as they see fit. What we’re seeing here is basic capitalism at work. Despite the vaunted position of newspapers in American democracy they are still, at the end of the day, a business. They have to sell a product just like any other for-profit operation and that means attracting customers. Endorsements of Hillary Clinton were clearly not the product that their consumers were shopping for.
If there’s any sort of lesson here, perhaps it speaks more to the “wisdom” of having editorial boards at newspapers which engage in the day to day business of deciding what’s best for the public and dispensing their opinions as if they were somehow more important than those of their readers. It seems as if journalism, in its purest form, should be in the business of delivering the facts and allowing the unwashed masses to evaluate them for themselves and make their own decisions. At what point did that change? Shouldn’t the job of the editors primarily focus on monitoring the accuracy and quality of the news articles published under their banner? In fact, one might go so far as to suggest that keeping opinions out of the newsroom would be a task a the top of their to do list.
Instead, newspaper editors perch themselves atop their mountains of fish wrap like sage gurus who need to guide the ignorant peasants toward a desired conclusion. Come to think of it, maybe the editors at the New York Times should get on a quick conference call with the staff at the News and Eagle. Despite their claims of everything being just fine, subscriptions for the Gray Lady remain at dangerous low marks compared to their glory days and they’re vacating eight floors of their Manhattan offices.
Wait… who did they endorse this year again? Well, I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.